About the course
This one year, residential, taught MSc provides graduate students, scientists and clinicians with highly advanced theoretical and practical understanding of human reproductive biology, embryology, infertility and assisted reproductive technology (ART) along with intensive ‘hands-on’ practical training in essential laboratory skills and the sophisticated gamete micromanipulation techniques associated with ART.
The MSc course is based alongside Oxford Fertility in purpose-built premises at the Institute of Reproductive Sciences, Oxford Business Park, with dedicated state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. The department’s intention is to inspire, motivate and train a network of future leaders in clinical embryology throughout the world.
The course runs over a period of one year, from October to September, incorporating the three University of Oxford terms: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. Fundamental reproductive science and laboratory methods/practical skills are taught in the first term (Michaelmas) over five discrete modules. Applied and clinical aspects are delivered in the second term (Hilary) over a further set of five modules. Each module is delivered over a period of one to three weeks and together, the ten modules comprise the ‘core content’ of the course. The third term (Trinity) is extended to allow sufficient time for a high quality laboratory research project.
The department places significant emphasis on the acquisition of practical laboratory skills. A particular strength of the course is that you will be trained individually on micromanipulation and laser biopsy equipment using training beads, mouse oocytes, human sperm and surplus human oocytes when available. You will spend significant amounts of time with Oxford Fertility following senior clinicians in the clinic, and embryologists in the IVF laboratory. You will also spend time with junior/trainee embryologists to discuss career options, writing CVs and you will meet visiting clinicians and embryologists from other leading UK IVF clinics. The department’s staff will also provide significant insight into the legal issues surrounding ART, along with quality management, ethics and ISO-accreditation. You will attend professional development seminars covering a wide range of topics including medical ethics, communication and presentation skills and experimental design.
The course is taught primarily by senior members of staff from the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health and Oxford Fertility. A variety of teaching methods are used to enhance and optimise student learning: class lectures, group tutorials, laboratory practical classes, self-directed learning sessions, journal clubs, problem-based learning, workshops and in-house demonstrations by visiting companies. You will also attend lectures given by visiting scientists who are world experts in their field. Private study sessions are timetabled during Michaelmas and Hilary Term, students are expected to use this time to work on formative and summative assignments.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health. Students on the MSc in Clinical Embryology receive individual mentorship by the Course Director and other members of the course staff at regular intervals throughout the course and whenever required. Each student will also be allocated with a Departmental Mentor (a senior member of the academic or clinical staff) and will also be allocated with a Graduate Advisor within their college. Students usually meet their Departmental Mentor and their Graduate Advisor once a term.
There are five summative assessments in total:
- A computer-based multiple choice examination at the end of Michaelmas term.
- An extended essay submitted during Hilary term.
- A short essay written examination in Trinity term.
- A dissertation based on a laboratory research project submitted during the extended Trinity term.
- A viva voce examination, normally conducted in September of the year in which the candidate is examined.
Graduates go on to pursue careers in clinical embryology, and further research activities in reproductive, biological and biomedical science, assisted reproduction, clinical academic work and industry.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a subject related to biology, biomedical science or a medical degree.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0. However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Research or working experience in the area of assisted reproductive technology may be an advantage.
- Evidence of the relevance of the course to future career development plans may be an advantage.
- Publications are not expected, but would be an advantage to the application.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Applicants are shortlisted on their academic ability. All shortlisted applicants are interviewed, usually within three to four weeks of the application deadline.
Interviews are carried out online using video call/conference software. If you are unable to use video call/conference, for example if internet connectivity is poor, then the interview would ordinarily be held by telephone conferencing.
Interviews normally last around 30 minutes and are carried out by the departmental selection committee, currently comprising the MSc course director, a senior clinician, a postdoctoral teaching fellow and the course coordinator. There will be a minimum of two academics on the interview panel. At the end of the interview, you will be offered the chance to ask questions about the course or studying in Oxford.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Initiatives to improve access to graduate study
This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.
For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process. Further information about how we use your socio-economic data can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
You will be provided with a desk space within the postgraduate study room and are encouraged to bring your own laptop which can be connected to the University's network and Wi-Fi. Laser printing/photocopying facilities are available within the postgraduate study room. IT support is predominantly provided by the Medical Sciences Division IT Unit, based at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
Further support is provided by Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS), who also provide an extensive range of short IT training courses. The University of Oxford has an incredibly diverse library service provided by over 100 libraries, including the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Science Library. MSc students predominantly utilise the Health Care Libraries, particularly the Cairns Library situated on the John Radcliffe Hospital site.
Experimental sessions are held in a dedicated modern laboratory equipped with a range of top quality equipment, including state-of-the-art gamete manipulation/injection systems. Sufficient experimental apparatus is provided to allow each student significant ‘hands-on’ training.
Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health
The Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health is one of the largest academic and clinical departments in the world in its field, encompassing multi-disciplinary research across the full spectrum of women’s health.
There are around 180 people working in the department, including senior academic staff, research support staff, professional staff, and graduate students (including clinicians) carrying out research towards a higher degree. The department's work has four overarching themes: cancer, global health, maternal and foetal health and reproductive medicine and genetics.
Our clinical and laboratory programmes are based in the Women’s Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital; the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine; the Institute of Reproductive Sciences (IRS) and the Big Data Institute, and there are collaborations with the School’s Institutes, the University’s Science Departments and with researchers outside Oxford, in both the UK and abroad, especially in low middle income countries.
The department has a variety of students studying towards research degrees, including students from both scientific and clinical backgrounds. The basis of the department’s research programmes are laboratory or clinical projects in which you carry out independent research in your chosen area, as agreed with your supervisor.
The department also offers a taught MSc course which prepares students for active employment within the clinical embryology/artificial reproductive technology (ART) sector and/or a research career in reproductive science. The MSc provides students with theoretical and practical understanding of human reproductive biology, embryology, infertility and ART. Significant emphasis is placed on providing ‘hands-on’ practical training in a range of laboratory techniques associated with scientific research, clinical diagnosis, or ART, including vitrification, comparative array hybridisation, gamete micromanipulation and infra-red laser biopsy.
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
You will have the option to attend national or international conferences in the field, such as meetings organised by the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, the British Andrology Society and the European Society for Human Reproduction & Embryology. If you choose to attend such meetings, you will have to cover all expenses related to your attendance, eg travel and accommodation costs, registration fee, etc. Costs for attending such meetings will depend entirely upon the precise location of the meeting. As a rough guide, attendance of the basic ESHRE meeting is likely to cost in the region of £600 to £900, while attendance at national meetings are more likely to cost £200 to £300.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Clinical Embryology:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You will not be asked to upload a separate document.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, of which at least two must be academic
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
One professional reference is acceptable, provided it is accompanied by two academic references.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and ability to work in a group.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 500 words
Your statement should describe why you wish to pursue the MSc in Clinical Embryology and how the course might influence your future career prospects. It should be written in English.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
It will be assessed for:
- career orientated approach
- coherence of the statement
- motivation for working in this area
- evidence of basic understanding of assisted reproduction
- the ability to write succinctly in English within the confines of a strict word count.